Gopher tortoises in Gainesville FL - What to do if you find one?
I have always wanted to use the phrase "Do not try this at home" but never really had a chance to. Until now.
Let me explain.
One of the things that I love the MOST about living in Gainesville FL is all of the wildlife! Frogs, toads, anole lizards, and snakes abound. Every night I hear an owl hooting in our backyard. Gainesville FL is a GREAT place to live especially if you love the outdoors.
So imagine my unbounded joy when I discovered this cute little gopher tortoise on a walk around our Haile Plantation neighborhood.
Now, I had seen one of his relatives crushed to bits in the road just a week before...and when I saw this dude munching on grass close to the same spot where his cousin had been obliterated, I just had to act.
I picked him up and brought him back to our neighborhood a couple of blocks away, thrilled that I'd saved his life and excited to get a few up close and personal moments on FlipVideo with him.
Seems like a pretty innocent video, no? Well, apparently, not so much. After I posted it to YouTube I got a couple of commenters who said that gopher tortoises are a threatened species and by moving him like this I was breaking the law.
So, to keep you from making the same mistake I thought I should post some info here about what you should do if you find a gopher tortoise flirting with disaster on the side of the road in Gainesville FL.
Here's what the Florida Wildlife Commission says to do if you find a gopher tortoise in the road:
"It is illegal to posses or relocate a tortoise without a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Although a wildlife officer would not write you a citation for helping a tortoise across a busy road, picking up a tortoise and taking it to a new location is a violation law. If you do see a tortoise in the road and help it across, be sure to move it across the road in the direction it was heading as the tortoise has a burrow (home) nearby and needs that home to survive. Also remember, moving it (especially during cold weather) could stress or even kill it. Moving tortoises can also spread disease to other tortoise populations. These animals have a strong instinct to return to their original burrow and, if relocated down the road, will likely return to where you first found them."
I felt so bad when I realized that by "rescuing" this gopher tortoise I may have put his life in danger anyway.
Which was not my plan at all.
Hope this info comes in handy for gopher tortoise rescuers in Gainesville. I know I'll keep it in mind if I ever find another gopher tortoise flirting with disaster!